Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

03/01/2018 01:30 PM Senate TRANSPORTATION

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
      HB 82-OFF HWY DRIVER'S LIC; REGISTRATION; INSURANCE                                                                   
2:17:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN announced the consideration of HB 82.                                                                             
2:18:15 PM                                                                                                                    
NOAH STAR, Staff, Representative Kreiss-Tomkins, Alaska State                                                                   
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, provided the following overview of                                                                 
HB 82:                                                                                                                          
     HB  82 seeks  to  restore off-highway  driver's  license                                                                   
     eligibility   to  the  communities   of  Kake,   Hoonah,                                                                   
     Angoon,  Seldovia,  and Hyder.  What  is an  off-highway                                                                   
     driver's   license?   An  off-highway   license   allows                                                                   
     drivers  to become  legally  licensed  without taking  a                                                                   
     road  test,  exempting residents  of  small  communities                                                                   
     from  traveling by  ferry or  plane  to a  far away  DMV                                                                   
     office.  To obtain  an off-highway  driver's license  an                                                                   
     individual only  has to complete  a written test.  As of                                                                   
     last  year,   there  were  1,120  off-highway   driver's                                                                   
     licenses   in  Alaska  operating   in  294   off-highway                                                                   
     In    2012,    constituents   from    Angoon    notified                                                                   
     Representative   Kreiss-Tomkins    that   residents   of                                                                   
     Angoon,  Kake, and  Hoonah had  been denied  off-highway                                                                   
     driver's  licenses. Despite  a  multi-decade history  of                                                                   
     applying  for and using  off-highway driver's  licenses,                                                                   
     these  residents  were  no   longer  eligible  for  off-                                                                   
     highway  licenses. Suddenly,  Angoon,  Kake, and  Hoonah                                                                   
     residents  were  faced  with   uncomfortable  decisions.                                                                   
     Residents had  to choose either pay hundreds  of dollars                                                                   
     to  fly  to  Juneau  to  take   a  road  test  using  an                                                                   
     unfamiliar  vehicle  or  stop driving  legally.  In  the                                                                   
     supporting letters  that accompany today's  presentation                                                                   
     as  well  as  the testimony,  you  will  read  how  off-                                                                   
     highway  driver's license  ineligibility affected  these                                                                   
     Why  did  Angoon,  Kake,  and   Hoonah  find  themselves                                                                   
     ineligible for  the licenses that they  had historically                                                                   
     used? New  regulation with inconsistent  application. To                                                                   
     be eligible  in the status  quo a community must  not be                                                                   
     "Connected  to the land-connected  state highway  system                                                                   
     with  no  access  to  a  DMV  office."  Additionally,  a                                                                   
     community  must  have  an average  traffic  count  lower                                                                   
     than  499 cars  in  order to  be  eligible  for an  off-                                                                   
     highway  driver's  license,  but these  regulations  are                                                                   
     inconsistently  applied;  for  example,  Metlakatla  and                                                                   
     Sand  Point  have  ferry  access   but  are  off-highway                                                                   
     driver's license eligible.                                                                                                 
     HB    82   realigns    off-highway   driver's    license                                                                   
     eligibility   with  a   common   sense  and   historical                                                                   
     understanding  of  which  communities  need  off-highway                                                                   
     driver's  licenses.  HB 82  is  simple, the  bill  asks:                                                                   
     one, is an  area off the road system, and  two, does the                                                                   
     area  not  have  a  DMV?  A   "yes"  to  both  of  those                                                                   
     questions means  a community should qualify for  an off-                                                                   
     highway driver's license, that's what our bill does.                                                                       
2:21:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. STAR referenced a sectional analysis for HB 82 as follows:                                                                  
     Section 1                                                                                                              
     Amends    AS.28.10.011,   the    vehicle    registration                                                                   
     exemption  statute. It  exempts non-commercial  vehicles                                                                   
     driven  in  off-road  eligible  areas  by  drivers  with                                                                   
     valid  driver's  licenses,   including  off-road  system                                                                   
     restricted   noncommercial    driver's   license,   from                                                                   
     registration.    The   requirements   for    off-highway                                                                   
     commercial   driver's  licenses   remain  unchanged   to                                                                   
     comply with federal law.                                                                                                   
     Section 2                                                                                                              
     Amends  section AS  28.10.011.  Requires the  department                                                                   
     to  publish  a list  of  areas  which don't  have  land-                                                                   
     connected road  access to a  driver's test once  a year.                                                                   
     Drivers  in communities  on this list  are eligible  for                                                                   
     off-highway licenses.                                                                                                      
     Section 3                                                                                                              
     Amends AS  28.15.201(d) to  use the word "area"  instead                                                                   
     of "community"  in the  statute on  drivers required  to                                                                   
     use in-vehicle  ignition interlock  devices and  updates                                                                   
     the  statutory  citation  that   references  off-highway                                                                   
     Section 4                                                                                                              
     Amends AS  28.15.201(g) to  use the word "area"  instead                                                                   
     of "community"  in the statute  on court limitations  of                                                                   
     driver's  licenses and  updates  the statutory  citation                                                                   
     that references off-highway areas.                                                                                         
     Section 5                                                                                                              
     Amends  AS  28.22.011 to  maintain  that  non-commercial                                                                   
     vehicles  driven  in  off-road  areas  (as  dictated  by                                                                   
     updated  list published  by the  department) are  exempt                                                                   
     from vehicle insurance.                                                                                                    
     Section 6                                                                                                              
     Amends AS  28.35.030(t). Uses  the word "areas"  instead                                                                   
     of  "communities" to  include  off-road system  eligible                                                                   
     places  in  existing  statutes   on  ignition  interlock                                                                   
     devices  and updates  the  statutory  citation for  off-                                                                   
     highway areas.                                                                                                             
     Section 7                                                                                                              
     Amends 28.35.032(t).  Uses the  word "areas" instead  of                                                                   
     "communities"   to   include    off-highway   restricted                                                                   
     eligible  drivers  in  existing   statutes  on  ignition                                                                   
     interlock  devices and  updates  the statutory  citation                                                                   
     for off-highway areas.                                                                                                     
     Section 8                                                                                                              
     Repeals   28.22.011(b),  which   required  the  DMV   to                                                                   
     annually  publish  a  list of  communities  exempt  from                                                                   
     registration  and insurance  under  the old  eligibility                                                                   
     guidelines,  since  the  new  list  is  required  to  be                                                                   
     published under AS 28.10.011(b).                                                                                           
2:23:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON commented as follows:                                                                                            
     We are  constantly reminded  by our Juneau senator  upon                                                                   
     how a  lot of the  folks don't pay  their fair  share of                                                                   
     the  roadways. DOT&PF  does maintain  some of the  roads                                                                   
     or builds some  of the new highway miles  within some of                                                                   
     these communities  and so the  fee is not being  paid is                                                                   
     a bit  of a concern,  but more of  a concern is  why not                                                                   
     have  motor vehicle  insurance be required  for some  of                                                                   
     the  drivers of off-road  access; that  just seems  that                                                                   
     other motor  vehicle lists  for if they  do get  into an                                                                   
     accident  because  they  may  not go  through  the  same                                                                   
     training  or  have a  driver's  road  test so  some  may                                                                   
     theorize  that  those  folks  may  not  be  as  safe  as                                                                   
     someone who  would go through the DMV process,  take the                                                                   
     written  test  and  the road  test  to  be  commercially                                                                   
     licensed  to not  to have  those  individuals who  drive                                                                   
     motor vehicles  which can be considered a  deadly weapon                                                                   
     for  some to  not be  insured. I  just don't  understand                                                                   
     the reason of why.                                                                                                         
MR. STAR replied that the current insurance exemption is                                                                        
untouched by the bill and detailed as follows:                                                                                  
     The policy  question of whether off-highway  communities                                                                   
     should  be  exempt  from registration  or  insurance  is                                                                   
     untouched  by HB 82,  that exemption  is already  on the                                                                   
     books and was  on the books for the period  of time that                                                                   
     I mentioned  where the communities of Angoon,  Kake, and                                                                   
     Hoonah  had  off-highway  eligibility.  So, HB  82  only                                                                   
     seeks  to  conform  existing statute  which  affords  an                                                                   
     exemption to  these communities  to the new  method that                                                                   
     we suggest  being used  to determine  if a community  is                                                                   
2:25:19 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON  asked if the  Alaska Marine Highway  System (AMHS)                                                              
was  included. He  inquired if  the  off-road communities  commute                                                              
through  AMHS to  another off-road  community can  continue to  be                                                              
MR. STAR answered as follows:                                                                                                   
     My  understanding  is  that  if  someone  with  an  off-                                                                   
     highway  driver's license  were to  drive onto a  ferry,                                                                   
     take the  ferry to  another off-highway community,  they                                                                   
     would be able  to drive with their  off-highway driver's                                                                   
     license.  If they were  to take the  ferry from  an off-                                                                   
     highway  community to  Juneau, they  would need  someone                                                                   
     with  a  normal  license  to   accompany  in  a  vehicle                                                                   
     similar to how  a provisional license might  work if you                                                                   
     were driving in Anchorage or Juneau.                                                                                       
SENATOR MACKINNON commented as follows:                                                                                         
     What's  great about  surveying the people  of Alaska  is                                                                   
     understanding individual  needs in other  communities. I                                                                   
     appreciate  that these  are existing  policies, but  the                                                                   
     interlock  seems to be  a new policy.  Can you  speak to                                                                   
     me about the new policy on interlock, first?                                                                               
MR. STAR answered as follows:                                                                                                   
     The interlock  conforming changes  in the bill is  not a                                                                   
     new policy,  in fact, it  is actually just  a conforming                                                                   
     change  so the  same  list that  was  used to  determine                                                                   
     off-highway    communities   was    used   to    exclude                                                                   
     communities  from  being  required  from  purchasing  an                                                                   
     interlock  ignition device,  the reason  for that  being                                                                   
     based  on our conversations  with folks  is that  it can                                                                   
     be  prohibitively  difficult  to  acquire  an  interlock                                                                   
     ignition device  in these same communities which  is why                                                                   
     the same list is used.                                                                                                     
2:27:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MACKINNON inquired as follows:                                                                                          
     Is    that    because    transmitting     electronically                                                                   
     information  or  do  you  know   historically  why  that                                                                   
     hasn't been  done? Again, it's  an opportunity  to learn                                                                   
     about  a community. Why  has Alaska  chosen that  in the                                                                   
MR.  STAR stated  that  he will  get back  to  the committee  with                                                              
historical  data.  He  reiterated  that  off-highway  constituents                                                              
have said interlock  ignition devices are prohibitively  difficult                                                              
to install.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR MACKINNON asked if there is a distinction between a                                                                     
regular driver's license and an off-highway driver's license.                                                                   
MR. STAR answered that the two licenses look different.                                                                         
SENATOR MACKINNON shared her concerns as follows:                                                                               
     It concerns  me that we  are creating a different  group                                                                   
     of  folks that  don't have  to have  insurance and  that                                                                   
     could be unsafe  in their community based  on not having                                                                   
     equitable  distribution of  regulations or  laws, but  I                                                                   
     will withhold  judgement until I hear more  because I do                                                                   
     know   that   individual   communities   struggle   with                                                                   
     different things.  I lived on Dutch Harbor  before there                                                                   
     was a  bridge so it's  isolated, it's very  small, about                                                                   
     two  miles wide,  and so  it would  have been  difficult                                                                   
     without  a  boat  to  get   over  to  Unalaska  to  find                                                                   
     groceries. So,  I know that depending on where  you live                                                                   
     the  challenges   are  different,  so  I   will  refrain                                                                   
     judgement until I hear a little bit more.                                                                                  
2:30:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP remarked that the change occurred when somebody                                                                  
interpreted AMHS as counting as access.                                                                                         
MR. STAR  answered correct.  He detailed that  in 2014  a traffic-                                                              
count component was  also added. He opined that  traffic count was                                                              
problematic  because the  count was  not always  kept up in  rural                                                              
CHAIR STEDMAN asked Mr. Star to get back to the committee on the                                                                
AMHS reference because the AMHS is considered a highway and why                                                                 
should it be excluded.                                                                                                          
SENATOR MACKINNON concurred as follows:                                                                                         
     I appreciate  you acknowledging the Marine Highway  is a                                                                   
     highway  because  we  have those  arguments  where  I've                                                                   
     been  known  to  challenge  the  fee  structure  of  the                                                                   
     Marine  Highway and so  now the  Marine Highway isn't  a                                                                   
     highway and  that's inconsistent also. I  appreciate you                                                                   
     raising that  issue because depending on where  you live                                                                   
     in Alaska  these are  different issues.  If you live  in                                                                   
     Juneau or any  other community and you benefit  from the                                                                   
     Marine  Highway  System,  you  fight for  that  and  the                                                                   
     subsequent  dollars  that  the state  invests  on  those                                                                   
     communities  on behalf  to run  that system  and if  you                                                                   
     are on  the highway  system you  are burdened from  some                                                                   
     perspective  with insurance  and  interlock systems  and                                                                   
     other  state  regulation  that   now  is  being  treated                                                                   
     different  because of  the Marine Highway.  So, I'm  not                                                                   
     going  to  get  controversial  about  it,  but  I  would                                                                   
     concur  that we  are asking  for  a different  treatment                                                                   
     when  you are  connected to  the  Marine Highway  System                                                                   
     under this particular scenario.                                                                                            
CHAIR STEDMAN remarked that AMHS is a highway, a scenic byway.                                                                  
2:32:51 PM                                                                                                                    
MARLA  THOMPSON,  Director,  Division  of  Motor  Vehicles  (DMV),                                                              
Alaska   Department   of   Administration,    Anchorage,   Alaska,                                                              
explained that off-highway  licenses are marked as  a restriction.                                                              
She  added that  the off-highway  license has  been redesigned  to                                                              
clearly show that the license is off-highway.                                                                                   
CHAIR  STEDMAN noted  that  there  was an  earlier  concern on  an                                                              
interpretation   change   dealing   with   some  of   the   remote                                                              
communities that  are attached to  AMHS. He asked if  Ms. Thompson                                                              
had any comments on the AMHS issue.                                                                                             
MS. THOMPSON replied as follows:                                                                                                
     The only thing  that I would comment on  is that because                                                                   
     the DOT&PF  only does the  traffic counts on  a schedule                                                                   
     that they've  got, it's not  always accurate  and things                                                                   
     can  change.  From  the  DMV's  point  of  view,  if  it                                                                   
     changes  it becomes  more confusing  for the people  who                                                                   
     live  there because  one day,  they might  have an  off-                                                                   
     highway license  and then the next day because  now it's                                                                   
     498, the  traffic, then we  have to take that  away from                                                                   
     them  and  frankly that's  an  expense  and it  is  very                                                                   
     confusing for folks.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  WILSON  asked  Ms.  Thompson   to  address  his  previous                                                              
comment  on "fees  not  paid"  as well  as  where  the normal  DMV                                                              
registration fees go for communities that are not off-road.                                                                     
MR.  THOMPSON  replied  that  DMV   is  strictly  responsible  for                                                              
collecting   fees.  She   added  that   there  would   not  be   a                                                              
registration fee from those communities any longer.                                                                             
CHAIR  STEDMAN  asked  David  Epstein   from  DOT&PF  if  AMHS  is                                                              
considered a highway.                                                                                                           
2:35:56 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID EPSTEIN,  South Coast  Region Traffic  and Safety  Engineer,                                                              
Alaska  Department   of  Transportation  and   Public  Facilities,                                                              
Juneau, Alaska,  replied that he has  not done much with  AMHS and                                                              
noted  that the  department  does  not do  traffic  counts on  the                                                              
ships.  He  said the  closest  association  he  has with  AMHS  is                                                              
signing and striping in the parking lots.                                                                                       
SENATOR MACKINNON commented as follows:                                                                                         
     I  believe we  are  provided AMHS  counts  on a  regular                                                                   
     basis,  so  I  just  wanted  to  make  sure  the  record                                                                   
      reflects that we might have a different analysis of                                                                       
CHAIR STEDMAN said  the Legislature receives an  accurate count of                                                              
the car-deck and ridership on AMHS from point-to-point.                                                                         
2:37:51 PM                                                                                                                    
GEORGINA   DAVIS-GASTELUM,   representing  self,   Kake,   Alaska,                                                              
testified in  support of HB  82. She said  the bill  addresses the                                                              
financial  and  geographical  difficulties  that  rural  residents                                                              
face when  having to  travel to  take road  tests at DMV  offices.                                                              
She  requested including  Kake,  Angoon, and  Hoonah as  locations                                                              
authorized for off-highway driver's licenses.                                                                                   
SENATOR  EGAN  emphasized  that AMHS  is  on  the federal  aid  to                                                              
highway systems.                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEDMAN concurred  that AMHS  is a  highway. He  emphasized                                                              
that  there was  no  confusion with  the  chairman  of the  Senate                                                              
Transportation Committee that AHMS is a highway.                                                                                
2:41:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN closed public testimony.                                                                                          
SENATOR WILSON commented as follows:                                                                                            
     I  guess  that  clarification   if  AMHS  is  a  federal                                                                   
     highway  it thus would  be illegal to  drive on  to that                                                                   
     federal  highway  with  the  off-road  license,  so  you                                                                   
     would be stuck  on your current location if  you have an                                                                   
     off-road  vehicle.  I  just  wanted to  get  that  legal                                                                   
CHAIR  STEDMAN  noted  that  the  committee  has  asked  the  bill                                                              
sponsor  to  comeback  with  a clarification  on  the  issue  that                                                              
Senator Wilson addressed.                                                                                                       
2:42:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN held HB 82 in committee.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 204 Version J 4.19.17.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 Senate Transportation Committee Memo.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 Minor Offences Table.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 Explanation of Changes.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 DOT Work Zone Safety Week PR.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 CS (JUD) Sponsor Statement.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 Citation Statistics.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 AAA Support Letter.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 NWZAW Poster.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 - FN DPS.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 204 - FN DOA.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 204
HB 82 ver J.A 2.26.18.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 82
HB 82 Supporting Documents - Powerpoint 4.11.2017.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 82
HB 82 Summary of Changes.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 82
HB 82 Sponsor Statement 4.11.2017.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 82
HB 82 Sectional Analysis.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 82
HB 82 Letters of Support 2.15.18.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 82
HB 82 - FN DOA.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 82
SB163 Fiscal Note DOT-MSCVE 1.29.18.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 163
SB163 Hearing Request 1.29.18.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 163
SB163 ver A 1.29.18.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 163
SB163 Sponsor Statement 1.29.18.pdf STRA 3/1/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 163